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Tiger Woods is in command at Torrey Pines but has some work left

Woods has a six-shot lead at the Farmers Insurance Open with 11 holes remaining. A victory would be his eighth on the course and 75th on the PGA Tour.

January 28, 2013

LA JOLLA — Can Tiger Woods hold the lead he took into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open on Sunday?

Will victory at Torrey Pines mark the start of a major-tournament Woods revival?

Or, did that ungodly bogey on No. 18 to end his third round, followed by two hook drives to start his fourth, portend a frostier, unfathomable conclusion?

What about Brandt Snedeker? Can the man who came from seven shots down to win last year's event somehow make Woods sweat?

What does Nick Watney have left in the bag?

Will they run out of hot dogs?

Did the crew of the Golf Channel find lodging Sunday night?

These are the days of their Torrey Pines tee times …

… to be continued.

A tournament that was supposed to end Sunday was turned into a sunset serial that threatened to hold everyone in suspended animation over the bluffs where skydivers take off.

The sponsors were openly cheering for a cliffhanger.

The more likely scenario is that an unclean tournament, which lost Saturday's third round because of dense fog, will end up a very clean break for Woods.

The world's No. 2 golfer needs only to mop up a few holes Monday to leave Torrey Pines with his eighth professional victory on these grounds.

It would be his 75th win on the PGA Tour.

"I'm very proud of what I've done," Woods said of what he is about to do.

When play was suspended at 5 p.m. because of darkness, Woods stood 17 under par overall with 11 holes left to play. Play will resume at 11:10 a.m. with Woods holding a six-shot lead over Snedeker and Watney. Snedeker has completed 13 holes, and Watney has finished eight.

The Golf Channel will pick up coverage in the morning with Channel 2 taking over at 1 p.m.

There probably won't be much daytime-announcing drama, although nothing's final in golf until the scorecard is signed. And there is a ball-gobbling ocean out there called the Pacific.

Anything can, feasibly, happen.

Last year, Kyle Stanley took a three-shot lead to the final hole at the Farmers and ended up losing to Snedeker in a playoff.

Woods is not Stanley, of course, meaning this tournament was probably over Sunday, when it was officially supposed to finish.

"I've got 11 holes to play," Woods cautioned. "I've got to go out there and play them well."

Snedeker, also, has not tipped his hat in concession.

"I've got a guy at the top of the leaderboard that doesn't like giving up leads," Snedeker said, "so I have to go catch him."

Sunday was Grand Central Station at Torrey Pines as officials tried to cram two days of golf between sunrise and sunset.

Woods was in cruise control most of the day, leading the field by as many as six shots during his third round.

Billy Horschel, who trailed Woods by only two shots after two rounds, couldn't hold up to the pressure of playing with Woods and stumbled to a four-over 76 to fall out of contention.

It felt like a coronation as Woods strode down the 18th fairway at 15 under, but a bogey on the hole ended his third round on a downer.

Woods then took a brief break before starting his final round at 3:10.

He badly hooked his first two drives but ended up salvaging par on both holes, even as the competition started to close.

Snedeker's birdie on the par-five ninth pulled him to within three shots of Woods, and Watney got to 11 under after making birdie on three of his first four holes.

Woods briefly lost the swing that had held up so well all week, but he still managed to score.

He got back to 15 under by rolling in a long birdie putt on the par-three third.

Woods then dangerously overcut his tee shot right on the par-four fourth, the good news being the Pacific Ocean was on his left.

"At least it wasn't left at the cliff!" Woods later joked of his miss.

His ball, though, was obstructed by a tree.

Woods not only avoided disaster by slicing his shot around the tree, he then chipped in for birdie, calling it a simple, "straight up the gut" shot.

At one point in the third round Woods appeared he might blow away the field. It was almost a throwback to vintage Woods in 2000, when he demolished the U.S. Open field at Pebble Beach.

That tournament was delayed by fog, also, and this week at Torrey was about as cold and wind-swept as that week at Pebble.

Woods was only 24 then, now he's 37. His 15-shot victory in 2000 embarrassed the competition. He was the only player to finish under par.

After that tournament, veteran Nick Price said, "I feel sorry for the young guys."

This isn't that Tiger Woods, who has been stuck on 14 professional majors since winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Woods didn't embarrass the field Sunday but everyone knew he was there — and that he was the man to beat.

Other stars subsided into the woodwork. Bubba Watson (illness) never made it to the first tee. Keegan Bradley didn't make the cut.

Phil Mickelson made the cut on number at one under and then shot three-over 75 in his third round on his way to playing out the string.

It was Tiger's show at Torrey, which isn't exactly a news bulletin.

He wore a gray sweater instead of his traditional red colors Sunday.

Woods is playing well, but not well enough to fool with the golf gods.

"It wasn't the final day," he said. "I'll wear red tomorrow."

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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